USERS have accused YouTube of hiding LGBTI material through its ‘restricted mode’ feature.
Computers in places such as libraries and schools may have the feature enabled by administrators. Restricted mode is a parental control–style feature intended to screen out “potentially objectionable content”.
The feature appears to be blocking inoffensive LGBTI content, however, including a lesbian couple reading each other their wedding vows.
British YouTuber Rowan Ellis, who posts videos about “pop culture from a feminist and queer perspective”, said about 40 of her videos are blocked in restricted mode.
Ellis said the blocking of innocuous LGBTI videos is troubling because it suggests something inherently offensive about being LGBTI.
“Videos about… life, love, history, friendships etc are no more inappropriate than videos with straight couples,” she said. “Yet they are apparently being treated differently.”
Key words such as ‘gay’, ‘trans’ and ‘bisexual’ appear to be behind the videos being blocked. YouTubers have pointed out that videos explicitly discussing straight sex are allowed, whereas videos about issues like orientation that don’t discuss sex are filtered.
Musicians Tegan and Sara tweeted that a number of their music videos “disappear” from YouTube in restricted mode.
“[LGBTI] people shouldn’t be restricted. SAD!” they said.
Almost half of Australian musician Brendan Maclean’s videos are blocked in restricted mode, including Free to Love and Hugs Not Drugs (Or Both). Last year’s explicit video for House of Air is not available at all on YouTube.
“Restricted mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited experience,” said a Google spokesperson.
“Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”